How to Quit Being a Badass

biker guyI have a friend who’s creating a business.

Actually, I have lots of friends who are creating businesses. And this is a story that reflects many of their journeys. One person inspired this particular story, but her story is the story of many people I know.

She got an idea she was passionate about. She collected great advice. She worked out a plan. She dreamed big. She found her courage. She leapt.

You know that expression “leap and the net will appear?” The net didn’t appear. In fact, it looked like it was the floor that was going to appear. Quickly.

She thought fast, she adjusted course, and she reconfigured the plan with a new component: continuing to work some hours at her day job.

”I guess I’m just not a badass”

I sensed that my friend was second-guessing herself. Maybe even feeling like a bit of a wimp.

And I realized that I had played a part in her perceptions. Not just me, but all the folks who do what I do. The cheerleaders for self employment. The champions of solopreneurship. The ones who work hard to give you tools to make the leap on your own.

She was comparing herself to our “fearlessness,” our battle cries.

Sometimes we forget to acknowledge something.

Some days, it’s hard

The whole reason we have battle cries is because sometimes it’s hard. You notice there’s no such thing as a battle cry for enjoying an ice cream sundae.

When you’re on your own, cash flow can be insanely tricky, even if you’re doing well. The 10 things you were sure would work don’t work. The next 10 things do work, but not as well as you wished they would.

And it’s taking a lot of time and energy to refine them. And just when you’re feeling good, you pay estimated taxes and suddenly you’re broke again. And your COBRA provider drops you for a bogus reason right in the middle of your insane busiest week.

It’s fun, too. It’s exhilarating and you feel amazingly alive. The rewards are real. But some days it’s hard. And some days it’s scary.

It’s your journey

I’m reading Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents right now, which is terrific. One of things that resonates for me is his idea of treating your life as a game.

You create the game. And you make the rules.

When folks like me exhort you to get way outside your comfort zone, we’re trying to liberate you from your fears. But not all fear is unhealthy. One of my favorite Naomi sayings is, “Absence of fear is not courage. Absence of fear is mental illness.”

Make your own rules. Build your own safety net. Build quadruple safety nets if you want to. I’m the sole breadwinner in my family and I have a mortgage and a four-year-old. You’d better believe I had a whole bunch of contingency plans before I went out on my own.

And yeah, I felt wimpy for taking so long. But looking behind me, I’m very glad I did it the way I did.

It’s not lame to have a day job

I loved many things about my day job, one of the nicest being that I knew exactly how my mortgage and health insurance were going to get paid for.

But the longer I was there, the harder it was to ignore some key facts.

  1. I’m really not cut out to work in a company bigger than about five people.
  2. My job looked like it was going to disappear in the next round of layoffs, so I was very in tune with the reality that day jobs don’t equal security.
  3. Working harder and putting more passion in didn’t get me any greater results. In fact, it just got on the nerves of many of the senior executives.
  4. I’d built a strong foundation to go solo, with the blog, the email newsletter, and the wonderful professional relationships I’d nurtured.
  5. The economy was in a perfect place to support the kind of work I wanted to do on my own. That meant that I would be able to help a lot more people by devoting more time to my own thing.

None of that means I think day jobs are evil. That one I had just stopped being suitable for me.

Trust yourself

The biggest issue when you transition from employment to entrepreneurship is that you make all of your own decisions.

That’s the part you can start doing today. You can decide how big a role (if any) you want your business to play in your life. You can decide that making $300 a month is just perfect for you right now, and enjoy building that success.

If it takes you 5 years to get there, who cares? It’s your game. It’s your vision. You get to build it the way you want to.

You can make up the rules of your game. You can define what it means to win. And if the rules aren’t working for you, you can change them.

That’s the fun part of all this, and any of us can do it. You’re wise enough to make wonderful decisions for your own life. So go for it. I’m cheering you on.

Let us know in the comments what rules you’re writing these days for your own game. How are they working for you?

Comments

  1. A.J. Pape says:

    Sonia -

    I found you through Copyblogger and I love your writing for how clear and inspirational you make it.

    I’m also a team dynamics geek. And when you said you’re really “not cut out to work in a company bigger than about five people” it made me wonder if the problem isn’t elsewhere. I dream of making awesome relationships scale up. I don’t discount that even in the most awesome culture in the world, you might still really just prefer a smaller group. But I think we (us humans) need to learn to make bigger organizations more hospitable to awesome people. Like you.

  2. ines says:

    What’s great about going on your own (and you do have to trust yourself to make it happen) – is that you will define your needs and you will quickly realize what is expendable.

    Rules – don’t be afraid to be creative and do things differently (have had tons of success with this and finally getting recognized as well as seeing tangible results)

    -give back! the more you give, the more you receive (sounds cliché, but oh so true)
    -have faith! (you will have REALLY BAD DAYS)

  3. Craig says:

    Sonia,

    This is good stuff. I’m in the process of deciding whether or not to be a solopreneur or company shill :-D (leaning toward shillery, to be honest.) This post really echoes some of the stuff I wrote recently about listening to the right people, especially yourself, when it comes to this kind of step. For what its worth, here’s the link: http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/craig-pelkey-landes/compass/reinventing-yourself-listen

  4. Melissa says:

    (My copy of Trust Agents just arrived in the mail yesterday – along with a copy of Career Renegade – not sure which one to read first.)

    I like treating life (and my business) as a game, which isn’t to say I take it lightly, but that I’m in control and I’m playing to have fun and to win. I think it’s important to set the rules of the game, what you will and won’t stand for, how you win and the steps you need to take to win – otherwise you might never get there. The surprising thing for me that has come out of my taking the big leap to work for myself has been my sense of daily happiness – I knew my whole life that I wasn’t meant to work for someone else, but instead of doing something about it, I lived in fear and hopped from one dead-end job to the next, complaining about each job along the way. For me, staying in a day job WAS lame simply because I knew I wasn’t cut out for it. Now that I’m working for myself, which I perceived would be much more scary than it actually is. Instead of fear, I feel relief. I now have control of my days – they are mine to do whatever I want with. Seeing what works and what doesn’t is part of the fun. Creating a life that I love – it’s all fun. While I feel I have big goals and have set my definitions of success, I feel like in many ways I’ve already won. And I totally agree, if you need 4 or 5 safety nets, build them. If you are on the 10-year plan to reach your goals, take it. The things is, it’s your business and your life to do whatever you want with. There are limitations at times, but if you only see the limitations, you won’t see the opportunities.

  5. Pace says:

    Wow, Sonia, your friend sounds a lot like me. I’ve been going through a lot of similar things, and this post really speaks to me. It’s good to hear an honest, friendly, realistic point of view about this — it really stands out from the usual rah-rah cheerleading.

    *hugs* (:

  6. Sonia Simone says:

    So good to hear from everyone! I’m dashing out the door, but will come back later with more thoughts on your thoughts. :)

  7. Matthew says:

    Thanks for this post Sonia, especially the part affirming that it’s okay to have a day job. If you listen to enough of this stuff it’s easy to get down on yourself for not taking the plunge into solopreneurship right away. I used to have a day job that was really not suitable to me and I was ready to “jump” into going solo. Good thing I didn’t – I am totally unprepared (no safety nets) and I have mouths to feed! A much more suitable job found me and now I can take the time needed to find my business without pressure to instantly replace an income.

    I do believe it’s vitally important to mind your own business, as ultimately, nobody else can. But even with a day job you can treat it as part of your business while you diversify into other areas and build a foundation for going out on your own.

    Anyway… thanks for affirming us dayjobbers. We’ll get there eventually.

  8. It never ceases to amaze me that I get just the right message just when I needed to hear it. Have been on my own for nearly 3 years now and was doing fine until the economy hit. Now it’s getting scary. My parents and everyone around me thinks I should give up and get a job. Play it safe. But I don’t want to play that game. I’m not a bad-ass, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Thank you.

  9. Amy Harrison says:

    I left my job last November and it’s been fantastic, but it’s also been hard, and I admit, from leaving a structure, I felt guilty to change my plans mid way, I thought I had to keep the same goals I had in January until I achieved them.

    Now I know life just doesn’t work like that and the flexibility to choose is very liberating, but scary as hell because there’s just no guarantee that it’s going to work. However, I’m happier following my own rucked up, pot-holed, un-ploughed path than someone elses, even if it is a smoother run. My path might just even out round the next corner, you never know :-)

  10. Jennifer says:

    Perfectly said, and perfectly timed – as usual. Thank you!

  11. This is a smart post, and a terrific reminder that my own enthusiasm for my life as an entrepreneur does not mean everyone is cut out for it. Also, there are many different ways to be an entrepreneur, and different approaches. I try to temper my enthusiasm with a dose of reality about how hard it can be on those bad days — so people don’t smash into that floor you describe without a word of warning first.

  12. Andrew says:

    Such inspiring words!

    It’s always good to have a reminder that we define the ends. We define what we’re striving for and what we want the rest of our life to look like. We can’t let others distract us with their own ideals and projections.

    It’s our life and we have to live it every single day. So as long as we’re enjoying it, then there should be no problems! Screw what “everybody” else thinks! ;-)

  13. Julien says:

    Glad you’re liking the book! The part about games is actually one of the first parts we wrote and it was an important part for me. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the rest of it!

  14. Fernando says:

    Awesome post – it was perfectly timed for where I’m at right now. I have two pending contracts – my FIRST contracts, with what could be my first content marketing customers. I’ve been blogging like crazy for the last five months while holding down a full-time job. I’ll blog at night, staying up late; I’ll get up at 5am, I’ll make Skype calls to Argentina or Spain (I’ve positioned myself as a content marketing consultant for Latino high tech companies entering the U.S. market).

    Finally I have two customers on the hook, and I was just about ready to quit, when I realized that what I’m charing them wwon’t quite be enough, and what if they cancel on me, and what if I don’t do a good job. And then I thought about making the leap anyway, and I’ve been all torn up frankly.

    Your post put everything in perspective for me! Thanks Sonia!

  15. As a professional coach, I try to impress upon my clients that “picturing prosperity” and “acting as if” and “believing in yourself” DOES NOT PAY THE MORTGAGE.
    A sound financial plan with a Plan B (and a Plan C, D, E, F, and more) is the underpinning of a dream, not the undoing of one.
    You know the commercials that say “There is no Credit Fairy”? There’s no Credit Fairy. There’s no Mortgage Fairy. There’s no Payroll Fairy. There’s no Insurance Fairy.
    I was watching the TV show “Shark Tank” last week and saw a man who had mortgaged his home and his children’s future to invest in his dream business. There’s no Business Fairy, either – just because you’ve put everything into it doesn’t make it a good idea. The experts were sad to tell him he had thrown all of his money at an idea that is not going to work.
    No matter how deeply he believes in his idea, everyone at home could see clearly that he had started as a Dreamer With A Vision and had become a foolish man who needed to wake up.)
    It’s important to define success for yourself. Thoreau said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”
    Stay out of debt. Build and keep financial reserves. The legends who built their businesses by maxing out their credit cards are few compared to the many who found that a one-way ticket to bankruptcy court.
    Read Larry Winget’s stuff. Read Dave Ramsey’s stuff. Read Suze Orman’s stuff.
    It’s no fun to be broke, and it’s even less fun when kids are depending on you. While I would never counsel “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid,” I would certainly advise you to “Be Practical, Be Very Practical, and Then You Will Have Nothing To Fear.”

  16. Nice reality check, Sonia. :)

    Although I’ve been freelancing for two years now, I only just realized that I’m something of a sham. As I gear up to launch my own marketing brand, it dawned on me that my prior two years of work – 90% of which was with two on-going clients – didn’t REALLY constitute the entrepreneurship I thought it did. I was in the role of a virtual employee … except where Uncle Sam was concerned. I didn’t have to pitch or bid for work … I didn’t even have to LOOK for work – it was delivered to me. Now that I’m marching with steady determination towards a more diversified (and therefore – in my mind – more secure) business model, the reality of what I’m up against is definitely daunting.

    I could not agree more with Ruth Ann. Dreams are nice. Dreams are essential, BUT you need to translate them into concrete plans if you’re ever going to bring them into being in the real world. A dream may start out all ethereal, but you’d better be damn sure that you’ve figured out all the nuts and bolts of the thing if you want it to stand up in the Real World! That said, nothing is impossible if you have enough passion and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

    • Jane Leonard says:

      Hi Jamie

      I had to reply to your post,
      I am in the same position as you described; faux entrepreneurship. You have called my bluff and I now need to translate my dreams and plans into concrete actions and bring them into the world.
      I am now making the move away my two main clients in a orderly way. I hope things went well for you and that you are now mega successful.

      I absolutely love how I learn so much from people on blogs. When you work as a sole trader you don’t have the normal network or informal support.
      Thank you Sonia for writing the original post and a sincere thanks for all the insightful comments

  17. Michelle says:

    Sonia-

    I love the post! We’ve been having a lot of those tough, crazy, insanely busy days you mentioned, and I can see more coming in the future. But also, as you said, the rewards are so totally worth it.

    @Ruth – Wow, very insightful! It seems that some people who make the entrepreneurial leap think that there will be a fairy of some sort to just…make their business work. And they obliviously run up tens of thousands of dollars in debt waiting for the fairy. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and the dreams. It’s a lot harder to sit down and figure out how to make it work, monetarily, especially when you have a lot of people depending on you.

  18. I want to “amen” much of what Jamie Lee Wallace said but I must take issue with this:
    “… nothing is impossible if you have enough passion and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.”
    SOME THINGS ARE IMPOSSIBLE no matter how much passion and sacrifice you are willing to invest.
    I could spend the rest of my life working hard, sacrificing everything, ablaze with passion, but no matter what I do, I’m never going to win the Miss Universe title.
    Before you chase a dream, make sure there’s a reasonable chance of catching it.
    The passionate believer needs a reality check, a financial plan, and an exit strategy.
    Some dreams deserve to die.

  19. @Ruth Ann – Agreed. I should avoid trafficking in “never,” “always,” and other absolutes like “nothing” and “everything” – tricky territory there.

    I assumed that people would be somewhat realistic with their goals, but I can see where a little clarity might be in order. However, there are some extraordinary people who overcome all kinds of obstacles to attain goals that may have SEEMED impossible, or at least ill-advised.

    I readily agree that there are some goals that are unattainable simply by definition. I, for instance, can never win American Idol because I am too old to be in the competition. However, if I really, REALLY wanted it, I could probably come up with a plan that would allow me to make part of my living as a musical performer.

    So, maybe it’s not a matter of euthanizing dreams, but adapting them to the reality of the dreamer’s circumstance and ability.

  20. You’re so right, Jamie Lee!
    The would-be movie star might not make it to Hollywood, but could be a local live theater performer, or a YouTube sensation.
    The purpose of this discussion is to remind people to be practical about investing precious resources in service of their goals so that they can take care of their financial responsibilities.
    As my late first husband used to say, “The race does not always go to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s how to bet yo’ money.”

  21. LOL. Great saying … what a wonderful analogy.

    Most successful endeavors are built upon a foundation of passionate dreams and practical considerations. Sonia’s advice to consider different approaches, definitions of success, and timetables are all great examples of worthwhile practical considerations.

    My personal rules:
    1. Think creatively – study what others have done, but don’t assume that’s the only way to do things
    2. Plan in phases – dream the big dream, but break it into smaller, more manageable pieces that allow you to get your feet wet and test your hypotheses as you go
    3. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate – Partnering with others can be a great way to create shortcuts to your collective or individual goals
    4. Have fun – … if you’re not, it’s not worth the effort

    :)

  22. I’m working a full time job, while trying to build my business on the side. I’m still afraid to putting myself out there. I’m in the process of putting together a teleconference for my readers. I have everything all set to go. I just need to set a date and launch it.

    It’s not easy.

    I was just over at the heart of business blog and he talked about finding the love in the actions we do. When we can see the love behind what we do we stop letting fear take over.

    Fear is a good thing, as long as it’s in moderation.

  23. Sonia,
    Thanks for this post. I have supported my business solely on my own for 4 years and now am starting another.
    I’ve always done a slow transition from working for others while building my own biz on the side and when my business has the momentum and income I need,sliding over to work in my own space without taking a “leap.”
    Slow transitions are good. There is no timeline or race. In fact, most honest entrepreneurs share stories of many false starts, failures and fear.
    Bad days come with the act of living, no matter how you pay the bills.

    Susan
    http://www.bizsavvytherapist.com

  24. Thanks for sharing this, starting your own business isn’t always going to be a walk in the park and I really like the tip about having a day job isn’t lame. If you’re passionate about what you are doing, you’ll need your day job to keep your investment afloat and once your business gets off the ground you’ll be quitting your job in no time!

  25. As well as being hard work, starting a new business takes much longer than people like to talk about, so having some other sort of income while building up the business is more than just a good idea, but a necessity!

  26. Jodith says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement and reminding me I don’t have to do it the way everyone else seems to. We’re living on my unemployment right now (which isn’t much and won’t last that long), but on the up side, we don’t have kids, so we can live pretty cheaply. I’ve never been a person to put myself forward and draw attention to myself, so this whole starting a business thing is a real challenge for me, especially considering *I’m* the business.

    When I go on mandatory interviews to maintain my unemployment, it’s hard not to be tempted by the thought of steady employment, a regular paycheck, and health insurance. But if I’ve learned anything the last 3 years, steady employment is a misnomer in this economy.

    So, I’m keeping my nose to the grindstone, and still searching for those elusive clients. (If you know someone who needs a really great Virtual Assistant, steer them my way, would you *laughs*).

  27. MarcQ says:

    Hi Sonia,

    So glad I found your blog today (via Heart of Business). I made a leap recently. I quit my job. I thought the net would appear. It hasn’t. Fortunately I decided to do Landmark Education at the same time, so I haven’t sunk completely thanks to the wonderful people around me. But now my project has collapsed, I have no money coming in, and I’m feeling lost (completely) as to where I should put my energy. I have another project which I am beginning on Saturday (via Landmark) which could bring money in (in a few months anyway), but it has been a painful situation to deal with.

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who begins to approach “floor” rather than “net”. We all want lives that inspire and empassion us. We all want to think big and believe. Fortunately we have reality to teach us when we haven’t really given something very much thought.

    Grateful for your post today…
    Marc

  28. Sonia Simone says:

    Ouch, Marc, very hard! The flip side is, you learn, you grow, you discover all kinds of amazing things about yourself, and you rebuild. It sounds like you’re starting the “rebuilding” part. Wishing you all the best with it!

  29. Having some sort of net is really important. Savings is what’s doing it for me at the moment.

    Learning how to work smart is the hardest work of all!

    Reading Naomi’s article now too. Thanks for the pointer.

  30. BenSpark says:

    Sonia,
    I like what you are saying here about making it your own game. Defining what it means to win for yourself. I like that, I get that. It is that first step that scares the heck out of me. But, seeing more and more people doing it and doing it well, learning from them is making the courage factor rise.
    .-= BenSpark´s last blog ..Are You Asking The Right Questions? =-.

  31. Cesar Abueg says:

    Sonia,

    That was encouraging to hear. From a cloud of bloggers and entrepreneurs pressured to be a “success” we often forget that the pressure can deter us from what’s important. Enjoying the journey, and not necessarily the destination.

    Appreciate your remarks on “making it your own game”. I determine the pressure, the success level, and everything else. I can be hard, I can be soft when I need to be.

    Thanks for sharing. Best wishes in all that you do.
    .-= Cesar Abueg´s last blog ..Word Of Mouth Is Not All That =-.

  32. Baker says:

    My rule is to position myself for passive income. This is not as hard as many people think, if you really do know what you are doing and have the right mindset. I also make a list of daily goals that get me to a place of passive income that goes over and above my monthly expenses. Passive income can be a reality for most people, but the only thing really holding them back is the belief that it isn’t possible, but it’s actually something very doable.

  33. Great article! I have always been fascinated with business since my teenage years (not far gone) and am trying, at present to get my own design business off the ground.

    Struggling a bit at the moment with the whole “relationship building” concept, but I’ll get there, hopefully! Nevertheless, great insight into the transition to entrepreneurship, from working a day job.

  34. Sean Cook says:

    Hi Sonia,

    I found myself staying up late tonight, muddling about, and saw a tweet you sent, and decided to hop on over here. Glad I did. This article was just what I myselfneeded to read right now. As you know, I took a leap of faith and have had a bit of a roller coaster ride. Lately the ups and downs have been more jolting, and I am working to dig myself out of the funk. So many of the things you mention really resonate with me. Thanks!

    Sean
    Sean Cook´s last [type] ..Entire Creating a Resume Webinar Now Available

  35. Reid Walley says:

    These 2 lines really resonated with me: “The whole reason we have battle cries is because sometimes it’s hard.” and “And I realized that I had played a part in her perceptions. The cheerleaders for self employment.”

    I’ve had to learn to co-create battle cries for clients that also align with cheerleading their leap into self employment. I’ve also had to learn to tone back on some of the rah-rah aspects of my cheerleading. I can’t just cheer loudly from the sidelines – LOL. But I need to run up and look closely at a client’s need for a new battle cry, crafted for each situation. It’s very much like guiding people up a mountain: every turn needs on-going, up-close and down-to-earth attention.

Trackbacks

  1. working 9 to 5?…

    Image via Wikipedia From Remarkable Communications Blog- For those of you who need inspiration to fly solo and fire your employer!-well sort of (maybe I should say become your own employer?) It’s not lame to have a day job I loved many things ab…

  2. [...] Sonia Simone wrote an interesting post today onHow to Quit Being a Badass | Remarkable CommunicationHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

  3. [...] How to Quit Being a Badass What I love here is that Sonia is reminding you to trust yourself. Build a safety net if you need to. You don’t need to be fearless to be badass. And just because you do have a little fear, a need for some bit of safety, it doesn’t mean you’re bound for failure. You CAN do it. [...]

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  5. [...] The reality is, leap (without some planning and effective techniques) and the floor will appear. [...]

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  7. [...] How to Quit Being a Badass. [...]

  8. [...] know that sometimes “leap, and the net will appear” turns out to be more like “leap, and the floor will appear.” For example, I felt that my heart said yes to quitting my day job to follow my dreams, but [...]